Like cancer and car accidents, there are probably very few of us who haven’t been touched by the loss of a relative or someone we know by suicide.
I try to address this sensitive issue a couple of times a year just because I believe a lot of life insurance claims go unpaid when the death is due to suicide, not because the company doesn’t want to pay them, but because claims aren’t filed.
To say there is a stigma that goes with the whole subject of suicide would be soft peddling the impact it has on the family and friends of the deceased. It’s often unexpected and always traumatic and very often produces feelings of guilt in a family that feels like they should have been able to keep it from happening.
It is the stigma, shame if you will, and the myriad of other feelings that often lead surviving spouses to either forget or just not file a life insurance claim. Mixed in with that most people don’t believe that insurance companies have to pay in the event of suicide, so why file?
But they do pay! There is a two year exclusion for death due to suicide, the suicide clause, in most states, one year in the others, and by law after that exclusion period the company has to pay.
But here’s the kicker. The companies don’t watch the obituaries and contact families when there’s a death. A claim has to be filed. If no claim is filed, no benefit is paid.
Bottom line. I just don’t want to see cases where a widow doesn’t get the life insurance proceeds that are due to her because she somehow believes it is owed or deserved. If you have a friend whose spouse commits suicide, bring the subject up. Help them out. File the claim!